Time is growing short before the end of the year. It’s time to reflect and take a look at what you’ve done this year and what you want to do next year to help take your product sales to the next level. A lot of times, we get scattered, not understanding exactly where to go or what to do. We don’t have that plan in place, that step by step thing that we can refer back to when we start spinning about. Learn some buyer meeting tips and some other questions answered that you can tick off as we sit down, reflect, and bounce things off of each other to make sure that you’re ready to roll and have the best year possible.
I hope you’re having a great day. I have a lot of things going on and I’m looking forward to seeing some of those come to conclusion. I hope that you are in the same boat and that you have a lot of things up in the air, a lot of pots boiling, and you are looking forward to bringing some of those things across the finish line. Let’s get into some of these questions because we have a couple good ones. Thank you so much for sending in the questions on a regular basis. Some of these we call you right back and answer the questions because they’re time sensitive. Some of these we’ve called back but we still want to put them on the podcast so that we can get them out in front of everybody and everybody can benefit from the answer.
Number one, “How long should my buyer presentation or a deck be?” We’ve covered that on the podcast before, but we’ll talk about it here. It’s common when wanting to send information on your product or your company to a buyer to go too big. It’s very common. In fact, I would say I see it a lot. When I say too big, I mean 20, 30, 40 pages of what your company is, your product, the white paper to back it up, the studies that have been done, the marketplace, it can go on and on. I will tell you that a buyer is simply not going to read through that. They’re going to delete it. They’re going to start off and say, “This thing’s 40 pages. I don’t have the time to do that.” “They’re not getting right to the point of the presentation. I’m going to delete it,” delete, and there you go. There’s a bigger chance that your presentation is never even going to be read.
One of my first clients when we started the company, this was back when GPS was big, before it became big on phones. They’re a GPS seller that we eventually got into Costco, but when they came to me, they had a 47-page presentation. They’re like, “We’re not getting any call backs. We’re not getting anything back from the buyer.” I simply told him, “The buyer deleted that.” “How do you know?” “I know that they did,” and when we finally got to the buyer, they admitted that, “Yes, I deleted that. I don’t have time to read that. I’m not going to read that. You’ve got to give me the points that I need.” How long should it be? Seven pages or less, and that includes one product page. Here’s a caveat, you can do seven pages and then add one page for every product that you’re going to present up to five products. Why do I cap it at five? I simply don’t want you to get the buyer confused or overwhelmed with a big product catalog at this time. We need to hit them with key products that you know for sure that fit into their demographic, that fit into their business model. Let’s lead with your best five.
When you’re face to face or when you’re over the phone, you can allude to the fact that you have a huge portfolio, that you have a huge catalog that’s going to come into play later. That you’re going to be able to do a lot of business and offer them a lot of terrific products down the road, but now, we’re focused on these five. That will keep your presentation concise. It will keep it short. The buyer’s mind won’t wander. They won’t get overwhelmed because this is not an online situation where they’re going to simply flood their online platform with a huge amount of skews, like Amazon would want to do. This buyer has to bring in every single skew. They have to find a place on the shelf for every single skew. You don’t want them backing away from you because they think you’re trying to sell them 100 products. You want them leaning toward you because you’re talking about five key products that they have interest in.
Next question, “What is the best way to increase my sales?” That is a conversation we you could have for a long time, we can make probably ten podcasts out of increasing your sales. I’m going to whittle it down to my two best things. Increasing your sales falls into two categories and two categories only. I know that could be a little bit disappointing that it’s not this bigger thing, a thousand-page book that we can write on increasing your sales but ultimately it comes down to these two things. Number one, sell more to the people that already buy from you. If you have people that are buying your product, sell those people more. That’s one way. The second way is to sell to more people. That’s it, Big Boxers. That’s the secret. You either sell more to the people that you already have or you sell more people.
The caveat to that is statistically, your customers are ten times more likely to buy more from you than a brand-new customer. If you’re looking to increase your sales, which I assume that you are, nobody ever comes to me and says, “How do I increase my sales,” that they’re thinking about, “I’m thinking about this. We’re down the road if I have a sale stall and I’m trying to be prepared for that.” “No.” Generally, when people come to me and ask me, “How can I increase my sales?” They want to increase their sales right now. I would say if you’re looking to increase your sales right this minute, sell more to the people that you already have. That might mean two things. You might have retailers that are out there selling your product and you may have additional products that you could be pitching to them. I would do that.
Number two, you may have a big online business and you may be selling to a bunch of online customers. You can create some promotions, some social media promotions, some promotions on Amazon. You can create some free shipping promotions or whatever it is you’re going to do on your own website to start capitalizing on this database of customers that you already have. The holidays are coming up. It’s a great time to start capitalizing on the people that you have in your database, and that’s why I talk all year long. I did that this year. I talked all year long about building your social media, building your list, building your database and this is why. When it comes to wanting to sell more, you’ve got to capitalize on the people that you already have. They’re ten times more likely to buy more from you than someone who’s brand new. If you want to increase your sales right now, go sell more to the people that you already have.
Next question, “Tim, can you give me some tips for an upcoming buyer meeting I have scheduled?” I’m super pumped that you’re going to be face-to-face in front of a buyer pitching your product. You’ve got to be super excited about that. You’re so close. You’re going to do awesome, I know that you are. I do have some tips for Number one, and this is a big one, don’t read your presentation. I know that you’re going to bring your buyer deck with you, that’s important. You should bring probably two to three more than you think you’re going to need just in case somebody else attends the meeting. If somebody else attends a meeting, that’s a good thing because it could be the supervisor of the buyer that you’re talking to, which getting to pitch the supervisor is awesome because you’re going to need their sign off later. Never be caught short and not have enough presentations for everybody.
Once all the presentations are out, don’t pick it up, don’t read it. You need to have what you’re going to say and how you’re going to say it already done. This is a conversation that you’re having. You’re going to be talking through your product, how it has synergy with their business, how their customers are currently looking for what your current situation is, who you’re selling to, what your customers are currently saying about your product. This is the conversation that you’re going to have with them, but it’s not going to be read from your presentation. Nobody wants to listen to somebody drawn on and read their presentation. Why do we leave a presentation? Why do we even bring it? It’s important because sometimes in these meetings, the people that are going to have final sign off are not there. You need extra presentations so that you give a guide for your buyer to help resell your product to their boss so that you get signed off on it. If you can give them an extra, if they need an extra so that they can leave it with their boss even better, but don’t read it. Have your pitch down.
Number two, only quote net net FOB pricing. If you don’t have to quote pricing right then, don’t do it. If they say, “What price are we looking at? What’s the range of this?” You can say, “Here’s our net net FOB, our warehouse price.” For those of you don’t know net net FOB, our warehouse price, what I’m trying to say is net net means there’s nothing built into it. This is the lowest possible price that you could get and you’re going to pick it up at our warehouse. There’s not going to be any lower price than this. This is it. If they come back and say, “We’d rather have the product delivered. That’s how we do business. We need some co-op money. We need some return money, we need this and that.”
There’s an understanding then that you priced them at your lowest price. You can always say, “Let me go back and work those into the pricing and I’ll get back to you with another quote.” If you already quoted a higher price that already had some of that stuff included in it, it’s going to be difficult for you to go back and add to that price, and you’re going to probably price yourself out of the situation. If I’m forced to quote price in the meeting, I’m prepared with my net FOB, my warehouse price so that I know I can requote later if they need me to add anything to it.
Number three, get there early. It’s important if you get there early, a lot of times you can get into the room early if the room is not occupied before your meeting. If you’re able to do that, then you can set things up the way that you want them to be. You can figure out where you’re going to sit, where you’re going to place your product, you have some time to set up your demonstration and then you can figure out where they’re going to sit. How do you know where they’re going to sit? You tell them where they’re going to sit by placing the presentations in front of the chairs that you want to be facing. When they walk in, they’re going to go sit there because that’s where the presentations are.
If you have time in the room, if you can get set up, if you have a couple of chances to take some deep breaths, you’re going to feel better. You’re going to feel better about your presentation, you’re going to be set rather than if you walked into the room and they were already sitting there, then you don’t have any chance to figure out where the best place for you to be at. You’re going to be stuck wherever you’re stuck. You have to start pitching them while you’re setting up your demo, which can spell disaster because your focus is divided and all of a sudden, your plan that you had is shot. If at all possible, get there early.
Next, treat it like a conversation. I alluded to this earlier but this is important. When you’re pitching a retail buyer, these people are human beings. We’ve talked about this in the last podcast, they consume too. They’re out there shopping, doing this like you. They’re not a God. They’re not a celebrity. They’re not a sports figure. They’re people. What they want is the same thing as you want. They want to offer their customers the best products at the best price. One key thing for you to remember and this will help you in your conversational tone, is that they already like your product. They’ve already have interest in your product; otherwise you wouldn’t even be there. Don’t spend any time trying to get them to like your product. That’s not what you’re there for. They already liked it. Otherwise you wouldn’t even be there.
This is time for you to button things up. This is time for you to talk through with them that you know their business and how your product’s going to fit into that. This is time for your final pitch. You’re not trying to get them to like the product anymore. You already have that. They’re already there. Think about that. When you see him first time and all of a sudden, your breath goes and you start getting nervous and this and that, take a deep breath and remember, “These people already like my product.” Once you have that down, then you know and you can relax and you can start having a conversation. Let’s say you’re on a plane and your seatmate says to you, “My name’s so and so. What do you do?” “I’m a product manufacturer.” “What’s your product?” Then you start having a conversation with this person and it’s a pitch because every time you tell somebody about your product, you’re pitching it to them, hoping that they’re going to like it and think and understand the value of it. It’s a conversational pitch.
It’s you having a conversation over the course of a plane ride. That’s the kind of conversational pitch you need to have with a buyer. If you go too hard, too soft, too easy, too forceful, it’s going to be weird. Think about this, if you’re on this plane and the guy says, “What do you do? What’s your product?” You stand up and you’re like, “This is what my product does,” and you start going hard at this guy. He’s going to look at you like, “You’re a freak,” because he’s not expecting that. He’s thinking you’re going to talk to him. That’s what buyers are thinking. They want to talk. This is not in my thing, I thought of it so I’m going to throw it in here. Don’t agree to anything that you don’t know that you can do in a buyer meeting, ever. If you don’t know that you can do it, say, “I don’t know. What I’m going to do is I’m going to write that down. I’m going to get back to you and let you know.” That doesn’t hurt your chances at all. In fact, buyers like it when you know your limitations and you have to go check on something because they don’t want you agreeing to something that you can’t do. Never agree to anything that you don’t know that you can 100% do.
Last here, do some research on the buyer. This is never going to hurt you is if you look at the buyer on social, find out what they’re posting about, what they’re interested in, what do they do? What do they talk about? Maybe you can integrate something that you have common ground on with this buyer into your pitch meeting. It should be subtle but find out what they’re interested in and if you can work that into your presentation, that’s going to do great things for you. Even if it’s subconsciously with the buyer, that all of the sudden we’re friendlier, the conversation’s friendlier because they mentioned something that subconsciously I know that I like. Get to know your buyer online. Find out a little bit about them so that that can help you in your pitch. I hope that helps. Good luck with your buyer meeting. We’re all pulling for you, myself, and all the Big Boxers out there are pulling for you to bring it home.
Next question, “I’m trying to get ahold of a buyer and they simply won’t respond no matter what I do. Should I give up?” You know what I’m going to say. Should you give up? No. Never give up. You may change your strategy. You might zig instead of zag, but don’t ever give up, especially if you know that your product would be awesome at this retailer. Here are a couple things. You may want to place them on what I call extended follow-up. An extended follow-up is when I only follow up with them every one or two months to touch base. Number two, when you’re reaching back out to these buyers, make sure that you’re not sending generic, “Hope all’s well. Following up on my previous email.” You need to make sure that you’re including something in this email that’s different. What’s going on in your business? It’s changed since the last time you talked to this or send an email to this buyer and put that in the subject line.
For instance, if your product was written up in, let’s say a magazine or a trade magazine, you can say the name of your product written up in trade magazine in your subject line. Let’s say you got into a retailer, even if it’s a small retailer, you can start your email off, “Just reaching back out to you. I want to let you know that we were recently picked up by this retailer and we’re looking forward to the opportunity of your company picking our product up as well. I’m looking forward to speaking with you again. I have attached our deck.” The key thing when you’re reaching out to buyers again and again and they’re not responding to you, one of two things could be happening. One, they’re not interested and you’re going to have to change things up and tell them something different and give them a new window to look out. Number two, it could be the wrong buyer. The buyer could have changed since you’ve got the buyer information. One of the things you need to do that I do, if I’ve emailed out a buyer two, three, four times and they’re ignoring me, I call.
Sometimes I’ll call the front desk and say, “I’m trying to get ahold of so and so. Do they still handle blah, blah, blah?” A lot of times you’re going to find out, “No, they got moved,” or “No. They’re no longer with the company,” and your email has been going to this box. Nobody’s even looking at it. To save yourself on time, if a buyer’s not responding to you right away, then call and find out whether you have the right buyer. I generally call the operator because I already have the name so it doesn’t look I’m cold-calling. You say, “I’ve been trying to get ahold of and so. They’re not responding back to me. Do they still handle blah, blah, blah?” A lot of times, operator’s going to say, “No, they don’t.” Then they’ll automatically say, “Here’s a new person that’s doing that,” and then you’re on your way. If they’re not responding to you, don’t give up. Place them on extended follow-up, call, find out if they’re still the buyer for that category. Make sure that when you’re touching base with them, you’re telling them something new each time.
Next question, “How do I know if I’m ready to present my product to buyers?” I did a podcast early on about this but we’ll go ahead and hit some key highlights here on things that you can look out for to know that you’re ready to put this in front of a buyer. This is a key thing on RangeMe. If you’re not on RangeMe, you should go check that out. They have this new program that you can pay for, but it’s only available to people that are deemed ready for retail. What it tells buyers is instead of that you have a product concept and you’re looking for people that are interested in it or your product’s brand new, it tells buyers that if you have this new status, it tells them that you’re ready for retail. Right now you could sell them and get things going right now. Here’re some things that you can check off and say, “Yes, I have this,” or “No. I don’t have this,” and put this on your to-do list to get your product ready to roll to buyers. Number one, online sales. You have to have already sold your product to somebody. Don’t try to take a product to a buyer, let’s say Target or Costco or a big national retailer that you have not sold yet. That’s a big no-no.
One, you don’t want to ever sell them something that’s not been vetted. You need at least, and I use the number 200 units of sales, to people that you don’t know online so that you can make sure that you’ve got all the kinks out of your product. That there’s nothing, no chinks in the armor that are going to hold you up because the last thing you ever want to do is bust out 100,000 of these things and find out that there’s some big flaw and the retailer dumps them all back in your lap. That’s exactly what would happen. You have to vet these products out there online and make sure that they’re what you think they are and that there are no big flaws. Online sales, at least 200 to people that you don’t know. Don’t get 200 of your f
riends to buy these because that’s getting past the issue. We’re not trying to get sales, we’re trying to make sure that the product doesn’t have any issues and we can do that through 200 sales to people that we don’t know.
Number two, packaging concepts. If you’re selling online, you don’t have to have cool retail packaging because people have already bought your product once you send it to them. If you’re going to present this in front of a retail buyer, you do need to at least have conceptual packaging designs so that you can show, “This is what our retail packaging is going to look when you give us a PO.” I’ve said this 100 times, packaging is not a DIY project unless that’s what you do for a living.” This is super important. It is probably one of the most important things once your product gets on a shelf is what you’re going to speak to the customer about through your packaging. You’ve got to go out and find somebody that does consumer-based packaging for a living. If you don’t know anybody or you can’t get a good recommendation, I exclusively use a firm in San Jose, California. I will definitely turn you onto them. All you have to do is reach out to me and I’m happy to do it. I know this person has done a lot of work for me and they can do terrific work for you. If you don’t have any recommendations and you’re in the dark there, reach out to me and I will be happy to connect you.
Consumer feedback and this goes along with your consumer base sales. We need some testimonials. We need to find out why people like the product. What are they doing with it? Is it the same as you thought they would be doing with it so that we can tell the buyers, “Here’s what customers are saying about our product.” Number four, professional images. Again, not a DIY project. You’re going to have to put down that iPhone and get somebody who does this for a living to give you some good white background images and also some lifestyle images. This is going to be a bit of an expense. You should budget for this, but it’s super important. Everything is images, Instagram, Pinterest even some Snapchat is all about great images. The better your images, the more you’re going to draw in your consumer, so don’t scrimp here.
Number five, solid logistical plan established. That doesn’t mean you have to be hiring anybody or you don’t have to put product in anybody’s warehouse. You need to know what you’re going to do when the time comes. What third party logistics company you’re going to use? Where are you going to store your product? Do you have a warehouse setup? You want to get that part ready because you definitely don’t want to be caught short when the time comes, scrambling around trying to do that while you’re also trying to get product produced. Understand your logistics and at least have a plan for that. Your product probably is ready to present to a buyer. If you have online sales, your packaging concepts are done. You have some good consumer feedback, you have professional images and your logistics plan is in place. That’s five things that you can tick off and make sure that you’re ready to roll.
That’s all I have for now. Those are some great questions. Keep them coming. We have a lot of questions coming in. A lot of them we respond to right away because they’re time-sensitive, but we like to put them all online if they have relevance to other Big Boxers that are going to be out there, we definitely want to talk about them online. We have a great podcast coming up for you on diversity in your business. If you’re a minority-owned business or you have diversity in your business that you can certify, we have an expert coming onto the podcast. Her name is Mercedes. She does this for a living. She’s going to help tell you how you can use that to leverage retailers and get yourself to the top of the list. That’s going to be super awesome and fun and exciting. I can’t wait to have her on and have you listen to what she has to say. We want to hear from you if there’s something that you want us to do in the podcast, some program you want us to talk about, some concepts that you want us to go over or some shifts in paradigm that you want us to look at, I need to hear that from you now. We’re making our plans for the podcast and our promotional calendar and what we’re going to do and what we’re going to talk about.
One of the exciting things going to happen is we’re going to turn a little bit and become also sales focused. We’re going to be talking to sales professionals. We’re going to be reviewing sales books. We’re going to be reaching back into my sales experience because everything that you do, if you’re going to get your products yourself into retailers, there is going to be some selling involved. There is going to be some pitching involved. We don’t always talk about sales technique, how to pitch, how to make the most of your time, and we’re going to be adding that to the podcast. It’s going to be valuable to you. I hope you get excited about that. If there’s anything else that you feel we need to add into the podcast, I am all ears and ready to hear your suggestions. If you want to get ahold of us, you can on Twitter @TLBConsult, on Facebook @TLBConsulting and also on our new closed Facebook group which is On The Shelf Now and hit join. We’d love to have you be part of the conversation and it’s a great way to reach out to us. As always, if you want to reach out to us personally, you can get to our website TLBConsulting.com. Until next time, until we bring Mercedes to you on our next podcast, look forward to seeing your products On The Shelf.